To recognize the kind of feeling that indicates true guidance, look for three qualities: calmness, clarity, and joy. Intuition is always based in a deep sense of calmness and detachment. When you’re trying to tune in to the superconscious mind, ask yourself if the guidance you’ve received makes you feel excited or restless. If so, then it’s safe to assume that you’re just going along with your own desires. Try to associate true guidance with a sense of calm acceptance. When you’ve received an answer rather than thinking, “Yes, YES, YESS!”, your attitude should be, “Whatever is, is. It doesn’t touch me personally.”
You’ll experience a certain power with inner calmness, but it’s also very steady. If you find yourself jumping up and down in an agitated state, thinking, “Oh boy! I got this guidance. It’s just great!!” then it’s probably worth questioning.
The second thing to associate with true intuition is a sense of clarity. If you’re visualizing different alternatives, or if guidance comes to you in a dream, it’s important to distinguish between subconscious and superconscious influences. Subconscious images tend to have a certain obscurity or cloudiness to them, and the colors appear dim or muddy. These signs indicate projections of the subconscious mind and shouldn’t be trusted. In superconscious experiences, the colors will be bright, pure, and brilliant, and the images filled with clarity or radiance. The clarity of colors and images are strong signs that you’ve tuned in to true intuition.
Finally, look for a sense of inner joy. The basis of this kind of joy should be calmness and deep impartiality. If it makes you feel emotionally excited, then it probably only reflects the temporary happiness that comes when our desires are fulfilled. True guidance should have a joy that takes you inside rather than outside of yourself. Like a current of energy, this kind of joy should take your consciousness inward and upward — not inward in the sense of self-congratulation, but upward with a sense of soaring freedom.
In developing your ability to recognize intuition, it’s important to test your guidance over a period of time. Unless you have no choice, don’t make big decisions on the strength of intuition. It’s better to begin with small decisions, and continually test your ability. You’ll begin noticing that when a certain feeling comes, and you follow it, things work out well. Then there’s a different feeling, less calm or clear. At first you may think it’s got to be right, but over time you’ll come to recognize this feeling as false guidance. Gradually you’ll come to understand the difference from your own experience. You may not be able to explain to others how you know, but when you learn to recognize true guidance, it cannot fail you.
Another way to recognize intuition is to act it out and watch your reactions as you go. If you’re doing the right thing, your inner feeling will gradually come stronger and clearer as you act. If you have no guidance at all, sometimes it better just to start anyway, because often any action is better than none at all. But don’t presume — take small steps. You’ll find by doing a little, the energy starts to flow. As this happens, the guidance gradually comes into focus.
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These techniques are based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi.